By Colette Dalton
Manager of Counseling
As we inch closer and closer to the year mark of living in a global pandemic, so many of us are tired. It’s taken a huge toll on our mental health, whether we realize it or not. It can be incredibly hard to be physically distant from each other, especially when we need human connection as human beings. It’s a biological imperative, just like food, water and shelter.
Especially during this hard time, we want students, staff and faculty alike to remember that they are important and that they matter. Because of that, we’re using the hashtag #WhyYouMatter for the Winter 2021 Semester Mental Health Awareness week. The more I think about this hashtag, the more I love it. Even without knowing you in particular, I know that you matter. And here are a few reasons why.
Nobody else can take your place
There are over 7 billion people in the world currently (and billions of others throughout the history of the world), and you are the only you. You are the only person with the particular personality, experiences and talents that you possess. God put you on the earth at this time for a reason and nobody can take your place.
You fill a unique role
I know that I sometimes wonder what difference I'm making. Especially in today’s social media-heavy world, it’s so easy to compare myself to everybody else and feel like I don’t measure up. But one thing a fellow therapist friend told me really helped—we could have the exact same message or topic for a client, but it could still be completely different because of our own life experience and presentation and relationship with that person. It’s the exact same way with you.
You have a unique reach
It would take you quite a while to list down everybody you know. A group of researchers at Columbia estimated that people have an average of 611 people in their social networks, and that group of people is unique to you. If you then take into account that those people also each have 611 people in their networks, that means you have over 370,000 people who are connected to you by two degrees of separation or less. Your ideas and thoughts could even be impacting someone that you’ve never met directly! Just think of all the times one of your friends passed along a thought one of their friends told them that then made an impact for you.
And aside from the approximately 611 people you actually know, think about all the people that you just meet or are acquaintances with. The server at the restaurant. The cashier at the grocery store. The woman you pass on the street. The man at the bus station. Because of where you are currently located and what you are currently doing, you have a unique reach.
You positively impact those around you
Even if you don’t realize it, you’re still positively impacting those around you. I sometimes think of the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life when I think of this idea. In this movie, George Bailey gets to see what life in his town would have been like if he had never been born, and it’s a very grim reality. I know when we’re struggling, it can be easy to dismiss our lives as useless or that we’re not doing enough. But even small things can make a huge difference in the life of someone else. As just a simple example, I think of when I accidentally left my wallet in a shopping cart over a decade ago and panicked when I realized I lost it. I re-traced my steps and went back to the store where someone had turned it to customer service. I’ll never know who turned it in, but them doing that simple act meant a ton to a cash-strapped college student.
Nobody can look at life with the exact same eyes as you
You bring a unique perspective. Because of your life experience, you can interpret scripture in a different light in a way that can uplift someone else. You can offer unique comfort to someone struggling in a similar situation. You can see and bring humor to a situation that others cannot. I know how much I’ve benefited from the wisdom of others—some of whom I’m never even met! I listen to podcasts a lot, and there have been so many times that I’ve felt a jolt listening to something someone said that completely resonated with me, but I never would have recognized if that person hadn’t said that. It’s quite likely you’ve done that for someone else, too; whether that was a family member, friend, classmate, supervisor or even just someone passing in the street.
Ultimately… You matter because you’re you and we’re so grateful you’re part of the Ensign College community. We’d love to hear more reasons about #WhyYouMatter. Engage with us on social media and tell us why! And we hope that you can remember this important message, even (especially?) when life gets hard.